In a sign of the reach of Washington's revolving door, two of the central players in the biggest settlement of the financial crisis were once on opposite sides of the negotiating table.
Investment banks may be unpopular now, but the associate attorney general at the Justice Department was once a defense lawyer for an even less sympathetic client: an American fighter for the Taliban. And while financial regulators today may feel outgunned by Wall Street, JPMorgan's general counsel was previously the former top law enforcement official for the Securities and Exchange Commission before the agency gained new regulatory powers from the Dodd-Frank overhaul.
Mr. West first joined the Justice Department in 1993. He later became an assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of California. After two unsuccessful political campaigns, Mr. West became a partner in the law firm of Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco in 2001. His clients included John Walker Lindh, who pleaded guilty to fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan. While that case was thought to have signaled an end to his political ambitions, Mr. West returned to the Justice Dept. in 2009. His sister-in-law is Kamala Harris, California's attorney general.
Before joining the securities agency, Mr. Cutler was a partner in the law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in Washington. As the enforcement director for the S.E.C. from 2001 to 2005, he prosecuted a wave of corporate scandals and his caseload included a then-record $750 million penalty against WorldCom.
JPMorgan was also one of Mr. Cutler's targets. After more than a year of investigations, the bank, together with Citigroup, paid almost $300 million to settle accusations that they aided the Enron fraud. "You can't turn a blind eye to the consequences of your actions," Mr. Cutler said in 2003. "Financial institutions may not look the other way when their clients use them to manipulate financial results." Unlike today's $13 billion mortgage deal, the banks did not admit or deny wrongdoing.